The Glenlivet Guardians Chapter (48.7%, OB)

Once upon a timea few teams were sent out around the world by The Glenlivet Distillery with three potions made by Whisky wizard Alan Winchester. Wizard Alan wanted to know the taste of the world, or should I say, the tastes of the four corners world. Thus three potions were concocted and named as follows:

  • Revival, Exotic & ClassicClassic: The quality of timelessness and enduring excellence,
  • Exotic: The quality of rich diversity and enigmatic depth,
  • Revival: A regard and passion for past styles, reinterpreted with a contemporary twist.

With lots of patience the teams set out and traveled many, many miles to visit groups of Whisky geeks all ’round the world. I use the term “geek” lightly, because I’m a Whisky geek myself and probably a geek in many other respects too, but I digress…

37 countries were visited, and many different countries showed many different results. Some liked the Classic potion best and some liked the exotic potion better, but the next country liked the revival potion the best. Valuable information in its own right, since different places have different tastes. Alan WinchesterAs luck would have it Mr. Al-Kindi, an Iraqi mathematician from the ninth century A.D., planted a seed that would eventually become statistics, and with this statistical knowledge one of the potions was voted the best by all members of all countries that had the opportunity to try all of the potions. The expression called “Exotic” was chosen by 39% of the tasters. Which brings us to today. The exotic-expression mentioned above is now bottled as The Guardians Chapter, and here are my findings…

Color: Orange Gold

Nose: Lots of Sherry upfront with creamy butter. Very full and bold. Whiffs of citric acidity. This Whisky really wants to leap out of the glass, to be snorted up first, to asses its merits and make you want to take a sip, but lets not indulge ourselves just yet. Very heavy on the Sherry actually, thick and cloying and very sweet. A bit heavy and aromatic. It was first called “Exotic”, but the Alpha I reviewed earlier, was more exotic that this. Lots of sugared fruits come next. Apricots, lime, hints of banana, and finally also some oak comes to the front. All in all a very bold expression, no subtleties here. After the oak a breath of fresh air emerges from my glass. Well crafted and modern Whisky. It smells a bit ‘designed’. Bold aromas of fruit and sweetness. Perfect for a young public that wants to be introduced to Whisky. Extremely drinkable and I guess a bottle like this will be finished quite quickly. More citrus now, toned down orange skin. The wood gives off whiffs like it has some virgin oak in the mix.

The Glenlivet Guardians Chapter

Taste: Sweet yes, caramel and toffee first (American wood). Very syrupy, with some elegant wood and wax polish. A little bit of (Sherry) cask toast (with tannins) and tar (European wood). A vegetable and dry grassy note. Warming and a nice finish. Good balance. It’s all here, a new oak twist with thick cloying Sherry notes and nice clean Ex-Bourbon cask in the mix.

Just like the Alpha, a nicely crafted Whisky. Very likeable and drinkable. A modern and very bold NAS Whisky that wants you to know it’s here. I guess this is somehow aimed at a young public, but I can imagine this sitting in my collection of open bottles, this will be empty soon. Compared to Alpha, this is definitely bolder, heavier and more up front. This is a loud whisky where Alpha was more fresh and elegant. For me the Alpha was even more of an exotic whisky. Nice to see how different these two limited releases of The Glenlivet are, and they are finally moving into the 21th century.

Points: 85

Thanks go out to JJ “The Marathon man”, for again, this rather large sample.


Master Quill’s Second Anniversary!

2 yearsAnother year has passed. One year ago I wrote that the first year of writing this blog passed very quickly. This year I almost missed the opportunity to write something for the occasion of the second anniversary! I was smiling away at birthday messages on Facebook, congratulating Master Quill. Smiling since March 4th isn’t my actual birthday, but the day this blog started.

So what did we do in the past year? The most exciting pieces to write are just like in the first year the “Weeks”. In the second year of Master Quill, only two more weeks saw the light of day, that’s a bit of a surprise to me! First we had a Glengoyne week and second a Bowmore week, all Single Malts, I know, but it’s sort of a core business here! Luckily one boasts to be the unpeated Malt and the second wouldn’t be the same without peat, so at least some diversity!

But that’s not all! The first year focused mostly on Single Malts, Wine, Cigars and Rum. As mentioned before Single Malts are most important to me. Wine was expanded, but this past year was a “bad” year for Cigars. Not a lot of good weather, and I have to smoke outside. Not as much Rum as I expected to write about, but I’ll make up for that in Master Quills third year.

The drinks categories got some new entries this second year around, with articles about Port and Sherry, both fortified Wines and with Whiskies from “other” countries like India and New Zealand. Quite exciting times since those countries produce some excellent examples. I can’t wait for another taste outside of Scotland.

Well the second year finished a bit slow, you might have noticed, with almost no activity (by me, the readers however keep coming back in large numbers even when temporarily not a lot of new content is being added). By the end of January I got a little bit sick. Something in between a big flu, a heavy cold or even pneumonia. I’m on antibiotics right now, so I’m guessing I can write a new review pretty soon…

Last but not least. I’m one of those people who a living the dream and found a job in the what I clearly love best. I’ve joined the Booze-Workforce! Maybe time for a Master Quill Inc. someday? Well to celebrate let’s open up a nice Longmorn from 1971!

Cheers, hope you like the posts and will continue to enjoy these pages. Enjoy Life!

Master Quill’s First Anniversary!

Master Quill is already one year old, well, the web version anyway. This first year of blogging passed very quickly and doesn’t feel as a whole year to me. It started out with the first “Hello Whisky World” post, that saw the light of day on the 4th of march 2012. Immediately followed by two reviews of Miltonduff and Macduff Mo Ór bottlings on the same day and a Lagavulin 12yo a day later. These first four posts were merely a test, to see how it would look.

The next tree posts were about cigars and came some three weeks later. Still nothing serious. One month of nothing but Master Quill really took off near the and of April. That’s were Master Quill came to be like it is now, and how it looks, since the looks got changed around that time. So in May this became a blog about nice things to put in your mouth…

In this past year we saw three ‘weeks’ passing by. First a bourbon week, that got a lot of attention. The review of Old Grand Dad 114, got an enormous amount of hits, compared to other reviews on Master Quill. Second week was the Japanese whisky week and the third and last one was the Rum week. More weeks are planned for the second year of Master Quill.

Yes Rum, so it is not only Whisky on these pages, well lots more actually. If weather permits, I’ll write a review of a cigar or two (I’m not allowed to smoke inside the house, and our climate is not actually similar to Florida’s). Besides all this, also some bottles of wine and beers also saw the light of day in reviewed form. I hope to do more of them too. Still lot’s of those lying around the castle too! last but not least a book review, yes only one, we’ll see…

Of course the first anniversary has to be modestly celebrated. What better than to open a nice bottle of Whisky. I went into the dungeons and came out with a nice bottle of Scapa. Time to rip that open! Review, soon on Master Quill!

Cheers, hope you like the posts and will continue to enjoy these pages. Enjoy Life!

Gordon & MacPhail Codes

Lots of times I witnessed situations where an ‘old’ bottle from Gordon & MacPhail was opened and we all started guessing how old the whisky was, since only a distillation year was printed i.e. “1970”. I fondly remember the discussions when a particular bottle was bottled because the bottle had a ‘nipple’. Another situation could be when a particular bottle was distilled and/or bottled, because only the age of the whisky was printed i.e. “30yo”. Very annoying when you taste a Strathisla 25yo by Gordon & MacPhail that was made for several decades with the same label and different batches are very different. Lots of those ‘old’ bottles don’t have such information, or do they?

Luckily for us there are some hints to be found. I’ll tell you about two of them.

  1. Laser Code
  2. Code on the bottom of the bottle

Laser Code

In the case of Gordon & MacPhail, since 1988 a laser Code can be found somewhere on the bottle. Usually printed on the back of the front label, or on the back of the bottle, near the bottom, for newer releases. As can be seen on the picture to the left. Here an enlarged view through the back of the bottle, through the whisky. The code is IB/ABD.

Of interest are the first two letters. IB in this case. The code used is like this: A=1, B=2, C=3, D=4, E=5, F=6, G=7, H=8, I=9 and J=0. IB therefore is 92. The bottle is very probably from 1992!  The second series of letters are probably a batch code. On the right is a picture of the same bottle from the front, and indeed it is bottled in 1992.

So continuing on from this code, here above is a complete list of codes that are used up untill now.

Like with any system there are of course a few exceptions.

  • There are cases known where the laser code states a particular year, but the bottling actually happened the following year (january or february). An example of this is a Longmorn 14yo that according to the label was distilled on the 30th of may 1975 and bottled on the 14th of february 1990. Code IJ would be expected, but the code on the bottle turned out to be HI/DCB, which is the code for 1989.
  • Sometimes the first part of the code comprises of three letters instead of two. This is very rare and when this happens two of the three letters match the table given here.
  • It seems 1991 was a year where Gordon & MacPhail were a bit inconsistent with the codes used. I’ve come across examples where the labels clearly state a year of bottling, but the laser code used on the back of the label is wrong. I’ll give three examples from the Connoisseurs Choice range:
  1. Convalmore 1969/1991 with the following code: HB/AJB. HB would have been 1982, but that was a year no laser codes were used. The correct code would have been IA.
  2. Coleburn 1972/1991 with code HG/ACD. HG would have been 1987, but that was also a year that laser codes were not used. In this case too there is a neck label with 1991.
  3. Tomatin 1964/1991 with code HI/AAF. HI is 1989, but here there is also a neck label with 1991.

Bottle Code

On the bottom of the bottle, in the glass are a lot of codes. I’ll take two of my older G&M bottles as an example.

  1. Strathisla 25yo: Liquor Bottle Scotland, 750ml, 79 08*, 66 mm, SC 999.
  2. Strathisla 15yo: 750ml, 66mm, 49, SD 133, also some signs I can’t reproduce here.

* 79 08 doesn’t seem to mean that the bottle was produced in (August) 1979. I’ve come across SC 999 bottles that had 90 08 or even 99 08 on the bottom.

The important stuffs are the ‘model numbers’ for the bottle. Here they are SC 999 and SD 133.

Doing some research in the invaluable archives of Whiskyauction, I comprised a list of codes and the years the bottle was used for bottling. All years stated here are confirmed by a year stated on the label of the bottle:

  • SC 96 (75cl): 1972, 1973, 1974 & 1975.
  • SC 803 (75cl): 1975, 1976 & 1977.
  • SC 99 (75cl): 1977.
  • SC 999 (75cl): 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987 & 1988.
  • SC 247 (75cl): 1983, 1984 & 1985.
  • 4699 (75cl): 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991.
  • SD 522 (75cl): 1989.
  • 6436 (75cl): 1989.
  • SD 133 (75cl): 1990 & 1991.
  • SD 686 (70cl): 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995 & 1996.

This information is far from complete and hopefully correct. Up to this point no contact was made with Gordon & MacPhail. There is probably a lot more information to be found, so if new things do pop up, I’ll add them to this article.

Hello Whiskyworld!

Welcome to Master Quill’s Whisky Blog, well I believe it will be about whisky, but who knows what will turn up around these pages in two years’ time. Milk?

After ten odd years of taking notes of whisk(e)y, in dirty little note books, why not take it up a notch and start sharing some (new) notes with you.

As I’m usually not sponsored with samples (or bottles for that matter), this blog will not show you what’s the best whisky to buy, that was issued yesterday. Still, as I found out myself, it’s nice to find on the net a comment about a bottle you might have gotten hold of, that nobody else knows about.

So, lets start of with two bottles of Mo Òr, and get the thing rolling…